Mon. May 16th, 2022

The only reason I ever watch the Super Bowl, really and truly, is for the halftime show. I’ve always loved how the fans, already pumped because of the game, cheer with the utmost enthusiasm in support for whichever artist is lucky enough to perform at that auspicious arena. I knew for a fact it would be hard for any singer to beat Lady Gaga’s performance from last year, but nevertheless, I had high expectations for Justin Timberlake.

Former NSYNC star and recent father, Justin Randall Timberlake emerged onto the stage Sunday night with the accomplishments of ten Grammy awards under his belt and the chance to redeem himself after his hand in Janet Jackson’s disastrous wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl in 2004. I was excited about the performance… until I saw the red bandana tied around his neck. Then I knew things were going to get interesting.

Aside from the questionable outfit of head-to-toe camo, Justin’s performance was family-friendly and noninflammatory. By and large, I actually found it an underwhelming, albeit clean performance. Included in his song lineup for the night was his recent hit “Filthy,” crowd-favorite “Can’t Stop the Feeling” and throwback “Sexyback.” I actually wish Justin had sang more, but his dance moves were admittedly impressive. I’ve read some sources that have stated Justin’s performance might have been playing it safe on purpose to not risk the chance of having a Janet Jackson episode part two.

I personally was very surprised by the tribute to “Purple Rain” and Prince, at first not understanding what the connection was. After doing some research, I still don’t understand what the connection was. Maybe I’m just being naive, but I could not find an overarching theme to his performance. I was confused because his songs said, “I’m sexy,” his outfit said, “I like camping,” and then his finale said, “Remember Prince.” The special effects were great, and that can’t be argued, but Justin’s overall presence left more to be desired.

Justin’s performance felt like an opener for another artist, so when there wasn’t another artist, I felt further deflated about the past thirteen minutes I spent staring at the screen. Also, after doing more searching on the internet, I found out that “Rock Your Body” is the same song that played when the Janet Jackson episode occurred in 2004. Why would Justin bring back the exact same song to the 2018 Super Bowl that created a national catastrophe and brought great controversy to his career 14 years ago? Even though it is a popular song, I found the choice of performing it again at this Super Bowl was tasteless.

However, I will say that Justin Timberlake’s performance should not reflect on him as a person. With the money he has earned from his successful career, he has donated funds to help Hurricane Katrina victims, and assisted an organization that deals with addiction and recovery for members of the music community. A performance should be viewed as separate from the celebrity; not everyone has a good day at work, and not every singer has the best performance. I will still listen to Justin Timberlake’s music, despite my views on his most recent performance.

Doménica Castro is a first-year student majoring in theater. ✉

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